WHY I USE POETRY IN MY REVIEWS
Some movies seem like poetry in motion to me, mostly because the filmmakers involved tell their stories using beautiful images backed up by haunting background music and scenes that pack an emotional wallop. One recent example is At Eternity’s Gate starring Willem Dafoe as painter Vincent Van Gogh. After watching this remarkable film, I was motivated to write a poem about the movie. Below are a few lines from my poem:
It’s time to praise Willem Dafoe
for his work as Vincent Van Gogh.
Watching “At Eternity’s Gate,”
we see painting as Vincent’s fate.
Lush with color and shapes unique,
such artistry for one to seek!
His sunflowers and starry skies
now please most everybody’s eyes.
Scenes touch something down deep inside,
seeing how Vincent lived and died.
For the past few years, I have added poems to my movie reviews. Perhaps that’s why some of my fans and colleagues have started calling me “Poet Laureate of the Movies.” At first, I thought it was a joke, but now I feel honored even to be mentioned in that way. In fact, I have done a bit of research about this topic.
The whole thing started when King James I officially appointed John Dryden as Poet Laureate of England back in 1668. Dryden’s duties were to keep writing poems, particularly for special occasions. And now there are over 40 countries that have their own Poet Laureate. States, communities and organizations also appoint a Poet Laureate. In the U.S.A. the Librarian of Congress choses a Poet Laureate each year.
What are the qualifications to be a Poet Laureate? The person should be an honored poet who agrees to compose poems during his/her tenure. Colorado surprised everyone in 1974 by appointing singer/songwriter John Denver to this position. But I thought that was fine. After all, a songwriter is also a poet!
So what should be the qualifications for a Poet Laureate of the Movies? She or he should be a poet honored for achievement who agrees to continue writing poems about films and special cinema events such as the Oscars®.
Because my book Cinema Stanzas: Rhyming About Movies was a winner in the Poetry category at the 2016 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards contest, I view that as an honor. And I hope this sequel -- Cinema Stanzas Two: Poet Laureate of the Movies -- proves my eagerness to continue writing poems about movies as an important part of my writing career.
Composing poems can be a curse.
It fills your mind but not your purse.
Those sleepless nights with words that rhyme
can lead to ruin or fame sublime.
But when the poems are film reviews,
that’s not the path most critics use.
A Movies Poet Laureate?
Is that what I am aiming at?
Some dear fans have already claimed
it’s what I truly should be named.
To mention that just makes me blush.
Don’t plan on it or even rush.
But read these poems so you will know
if the answer is yes or no.
Most of all, as with the first Cinema Stanzas, I wrote this book for readers who love both poetry and the movies. It includes over 70 reviews/film poems of movies released during 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 as well as several poems related to cinema. Various genres are included, so just dive in anywhere – and enjoy!
Betty Jo Tucker